Dear Callum: I don’t really think I even believe that you’re gone

Fighting Words 2021: A short story by Ella O’Neill (17), Donabate Community College, Dublin

Photograph: iStock

Photograph: iStock

 

17th January 2019

Dear Callum,

You wrote me a letter, so I thought I’d write you one too. That’s what you do when someone writes you a letter, isn’t it? You respond. Though I’m pretty sure you won’t be responding to this letter any time soon. You said in your letter that you were sorry and that you loved me and that this wasn’t my fault. That there was nothing I could have done. I don’t believe that. I don’t really think I even believe that you’re gone.

God knows I’ve said it to myself enough times over the last three days. You’re dead.

I thought writing it down might make it seem more real.

It didn’t.

I don’t know what I want to say to you at the moment. Maybe I’ll write to you again when I do.

Love Maddie

18th January 2019

Dear Callum,

Your funeral was today. It was the first time I’d seen your family since it happened. I think if you could have seen them today, you wouldn’t have done it. Your parents just looked so ... lost, I guess that’s the best way to describe it. I don’t think your mam stopped crying through the whole thing. Emily seemed angry, mostly. She’s always so protective of you, she can’t bear the thought of someone hurting you, even if that someone is yourself.

Do you want to know something weird? I looked for you when I went into the church. To try and find you, to sit next to you. Then I remembered. That’s been happening a lot. I forget for a second, and there’s just this little niggling feeling that something’s wrong, and I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. Or I’ll go to text you about how horrible everything is, and then I remember the reason that everything is so horrible.

You’ll be glad to know that I did manage to find the irony in going to a Catholic funeral for one of the most atheist people I have ever met. I almost managed to find it funny when the priest said God was waiting to welcome you home. Almost. All my senses are a bit muted; I have to try extra hard to hear, and see, and think. I feel a little bit like I’m underwater.

I hope I come up soon.

Love Maddie

22nd January

Dear Callum,

I don’t think I’ve ever gone more than a day not talking to you before, and now it’s been a week. And soon it’ll be a month, and then two, and then suddenly years and years will go by and I’m never going to get to talk to you again. Never is a very long time, and I’m just at the beginning of it. How am I supposed to go through the years and years of it? I’m exhausted already, and it’s only been a week. I am so sick of being sad, but I don’t think I’m ever really going to be happy again. That’s the thing though; I don’t want to be happy again. I don’t want there to be a day where you being gone isn’t unbearable. I don’t want to move on with my life, and learn to live without you, I just want you back.

I wish you could have known that. I wish I could tell you. God, there are so many things I wish I could tell you.

But I can’t.

Love Maddie

29th January 2019

Dear Callum,

I went back to school yesterday. I was a bit surprised to see that the world had kept turning since you died. I couldn’t believe people were still able to smile, and laugh, and complain about tests like they actually mattered. I don’t think I’ve learned a single thing. I feel like someone’s taken my brain out and filled my head back up with wool.

I’ve realised today how little I enjoy History. It’s not the same without you turning around every five seconds to ask me the answer to a question, or make fun of Mr O’Reilly. It’s pretty boring, to be honest.

I’m realising that a lot of things I used to love about school were just you. I thought I loved the walk to school on cold mornings, but I really just loved you making fun of me for complaining about the cold. I thought I loved going to the library at lunchtime, but I just loved meeting you there and listening to you tell me about your day.

So much of my life was you. I’m not sure who I am without you in it.

Love Maddie

5th February 2019

Dear Callum,

I miss you.

Love Maddie

8th February

Dear Callum,

I hate you sometimes. Even though I know I shouldn’t, and that I’m probably a horrible person for thinking it, I hate you. I hate that you’re gone, and that you couldn’t stay for me. I hate that I have to go every day for the rest of my life without you, and it’s all your fault. How could you do this to me? How could you leave me here? I hate that this is my life now: the girl whose best friend killed himself.

But even more than I hate you, I hate myself. I hate that I couldn’t see it. You were miserable, and I had no clue. Some best friend I am. I hate that I couldn’t stop you or help you or do anything. I just complained to you about all my problems, blissfully ignorant that you were fighting against your own mind.

I know you said in your letter that it wasn’t my fault and that you didn’t blame me, but how could you not? I was the worst friend in the world and now you’re gone because of it.

I’m so sorry.

Love Maddie

28th August 2019

Dear Callum,

I know I haven’t written in a while. I’m sorry. Writing to you when you couldn’t write back started to make me feel worse rather than better. I started to feel silly pouring my heart out on a page you would never read. But I wanted to talk to you again.

My first day of sixth year was today. A new girl sits in your seat in History now. It made my heart ache, but I didn’t cry like I would have two months ago. I eat lunch in the cafeteria now, with Lauren and Róisín.

I miss you just as much as I did last January. I’m always going to miss you. I hope you know that.

Forever without you still feels like a long time, but it doesn’t feel so unbearable now. I know that was my worst fear, but I don’t mind it so much.

I don’t know what else to say, but maybe I will someday.

Love Maddie

Fighting Words is an Irish charity that helps children and adults to develop their creative writing skills. This is part of their annual publication with The Irish Times